21st May 2015
Stuart Bradley - Offshore Renewables Strategy Manager
In some circumstances boring predictability is a good thing and that’s certainly true when it comes to tidal energy.
Tidal stream energy is a reliable and predictable low carbon energy source and there is sufficient energy resource around the UK’s water for it to make a material contribution to the country’s future energy needs.
Our modelling work and the outcomes from our tidal energy convertor project have shown that tidal stream energy has the potential to compete on cost with
other low carbon sources. By 2020 we can see it’s levelised cost of energy being in a range of between 10 and 20p per kWh.
As well as being reliable and predictable it has less visual impact than other sources of energy generation and can also create other economic and environmental benefits.
So, if this is the case, why are we not seeing as many tidal energy devices in this country as we do wind turbines?
One reason is that although there is a demonstrable route to making tidal stream energy competitive with other low carbon technologies, it is not there yet.
However, the innovation needs are known by the industry and the challenge is putting them together in the best way to ensure the costs come down.
The sector has developed in recent years from small prototype devices through to full scale demonstrators and early commercial arrays are now in development.
There is no need to reinvent anything, but it is important to make the next step. We see the importance of array-scale system engineering as essential. A rigorous system engineering, rather than component focussed approach, is required.
The UK is already a leader in tidal device development with an established supply chain. Further cost reductions should now focus on coordinated investment into supply chain innovation, the processes involved and the training and skillset of its people.
If we get this right there could be more tidal devices generating electricity in this country and opportunities to sell that technology to markets around the world.
For more information on tidal stream technology development click here